What terms are used to describe histologic findings of benign skin lesions?

Updated: Jan 30, 2020
  • Author: Ginard I Henry, MD; Chief Editor: Gregory Gary Caputy, MD, PhD, FICS  more...
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Note that some of the terms below can be used to describe both a morphologic and a histologic finding; such terms are denoted with an asterisk (*).

Histologic terms, with their most common definitions, follow:

  • Acantholysis - Dissolution of intercellular integrity with fragmentation of epidermis

  • Acanthosis - Hyperplasia of epidermal layer

  • Dyskeratosis - Abnormal keratinization occurring prematurely in cells below the stratum granulosum

  • Erosion* - Loss of epidermis

  • Exocytosis - Infiltration of epidermis by inflammatory cells

  • Hyperkeratosis (keratosis) - Thickening of the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the epidermis) with excess abnormal keratin

  • Lichenification * - Hyperplasia of all compartments of the epidermis with acantholysis and papillomatosis

  • Papillomatosis - Hyperplasia of the papillary dermis and lengthening and/or widening of the dermal papillae

  • Parakeratosis - Persistence of the nuclei within the cells of the stratum corneum of the epidermis as seen in psoriasis

  • Spongiosis - Edema limited to the epidermis

  • Ulceration* - Loss of epidermis with variable partial-to-complete loss of dermis

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